2021 Spring Newsletter | Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue
A Message from our Executive Director
Baby Season is Here!
Dear Supporters,

We are in the beginning stages of baby season and our interns have been selected for this coming summer where they will help us shoulder the burden of our work helping wildlife. Our volunteers have been amazing, sticking with us through thick and thin. It's always very touching when you come in to work in the morning and see a row of caring people already here fussing over all the orphaned wildlife at the feeding bar.
Our Spring Season Appeals was mailed out last week, which means we really need your help. This is the time of year when we start our big Grocery List and begin purchasing the needed baby formulas and medical supplies from your donations. Your generosity is what makes all these good things happen. Keep an eye out for when you may be invited to help by bringing us needed items throughout this year’s baby season.

We were in the vineyards today monitoring barn owl boxes and found our first little newborns owlets alongside their mothers who were there to keep them warm and fed.
For those of you who would still like to have your boxes monitored, please call our office at 707-992-0274. Kelsey is still scheduling our spring visits. The money we receive to do this valuable work, goes towards feeding many other species of orphaned wildlife as well.

We were just up in an attic in Rohnert Park where a nest of baby raccoons were waiting to be fed by their mother who was out foraging for food herself. We will apply predator scent so the mother will get the ‘eviction notice’ to move those babies to a more natural habitat, instead of making themselves “at home” in a human’s house. Those services fund our work as well.

It has been a very rewarding experience for Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue to have humane solutions for wildlife when they conflict with humans. We do this through A Wildlife Exclusion Service. We also help vineyard owners who use our Barn Owl Maintenance Program to help solve their issues with harmful rodents. We are looking to hire someone who loves wildlife and would like to join our team in these efforts. If you know of this special person who can fill this void now, please have them reach out about our Exclusion Technician position at support@scwildliferescue.org.

Thank you for your continued support!

Doris Duncan
Executive Director
Community Spotlight
Lynmar Estate Winery is a company that Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue has long held near to our hearts. As our very first BOMP client in 2012, our relationship with Lynmar Estate began when Executive Director, Doris Duncan, arrived at one of their vineyards one fateful summer day to collect food for our rehabbing wildlife patients from Greg. Greg is another one of our dear wildlife friends, who ran The Gopher Guy. Once on site, Doris noticed that the vineyard had barn owl boxes installed throughout. Thinking of the orphaned barn owls that were in care back at the Rescue, she asked if she could peek in the boxes to see if there were any owls inside to potentially foster the orphaned owlets. To her delight Lynn and Anisya Fritz, the owners of Lynmar Estate, happened to be at the vineyard that day and gave Doris the green light to check in the boxes. This singular encounter was the launching moment of our Barn Owl Maintenance Program.

Since then, Lynmar Estate has answered our call for help time and time again. Most recently, they have been supplying us with truckloads of willow for the 3 orphaned beavers that were in our care until their recent release in mid-April!

Cheers to Lynmar Estate Winery and their dedication to wildlife!
BOMP Corner
Spring Monitoring Season is Here!

Reach out to Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue's Barn Owl Maintenance Program to schedule your spring monitoring visit today! Call us at 707-992-0274 or email us at bomp@scwildliferescue.org.

Read our recent article about BOMP Spring Monitoring services here.

Animal Care Spotlight
Squirrel Orphan Care
Squirrels are one of the most common orphaned wildlife patients that come through the doors of Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue. This year, we have taken in 38 squirrel orphans and we will continue to get orphans through the end of October at the earliest end date. Since many squirrels in Sonoma County will have two litters of babies in a year, squirrels have the longest baby season of any other orphan species in our care, second only to the Virginia Opossum (learn all about opossums in our Spring 2020 newsletter here). Of these squirrels, Western Grey Squirrels are, by far, the most common subspecies-but we also receive other Sonoma County species like Eastern Fox Squirrels, Eastern Grey Squirrels, California Ground Squirrels, Douglas Squirrels and even Northern Flying Squirrels!

So, why do we get so many squirrels in to care? There is one leading cause for orphaned squirrels that we see multiple times a week during baby season: nest disturbance or destruction. Most squirrel species in Sonoma County live in trees and nest in dreys. Dreys differ from bird nests in that they consist of leaves and matted material that the squirrels reside within. Even with a keenly trained eye, these nests are almost impossible to spot from the ground. This makes it all too easy for homeowners and professional landscapers alike to miss a squirrel drey when trimming or cutting down trees. Luckily, if a squirrel nest is disturbed, or even destroyed, squirrels, will come back for their young and move them to a new nesting location. For this reason, and knowing that young wildlife fares far better in the wild with their mother rather than in the care of humans, Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, attempts a reunite on all appropriate instances of a squirrel falling from their nest. Only if a reunite is not possible (for example, if the mother is known to have died), if the squirrel has been injured, or if a reunite has been attempted and failed, do we consider a squirrel orphaned and take them into care.
Upon intake, our animal care team assesses the squirrel’s age. If they are not old enough to thermoregulate, then they are placed inside of an incubator to warm up before a full intake exam is conducted. Those who can thermoregulate on their own are kept in a dark and quiet enclosure to de-stress from transportation. Reducing stress, especially in a prey species like squirrels, is critical in a successful rehabilitation. Once the squirrel has been able to warm up and/or de-stress, a full intake exam is conducted by our Animal Care Team. During this exam, our team conducts a more extensive evaluation of the squirrel’s health and creates a treatment plan based on their findings. Common issues found during this exam include injuries sustained during the fall from a nest, injuries sustained from being caught by a cat or dog after their fall, or parasites, such as fleas or mites. From there, a full treatment plan is made for each individual intake. They are placed on a regular feeding schedule, provided enrichment, and treated for ailments discovered during their intake exam. When able, we place squirrels that come in alone with squirrels of the same age and species.

Once a squirrel no longer requires regular bottle feedings, they are moved into our nursery, which is a transitional stage between the hospital and an outdoor enclosure. In the nursery, the squirrel is still monitored closely by our animal care team, with daily exams, weight checks and weaning bottle feeds. The nursery has far less human activity than our Wildlife Hospital. This is a critical consideration in wildlife rehabilitation in order to avoid the squirrel imprinting on humans. Once a squirrel is healthy and mostly independent, it is transferred to an outdoor enclosure within our Wildlife Rehabilitation Community. At this stage, squirrels are handled as little as possible until they are ready to head out on their own in the wild. After a short time in our Wildlife Community, we start to evaluate the squirrel for release, making sure that they hit critical milestones, proving their ability to survive on their own in the wild. A few critical elements, besides age and size, include being able to crack nuts on their own and having a healthy avoidance of humans. Once they pass all release evaluation criteria, they are cleared for a life back out in the wild. When possible, we love to include the finder in these releases, often inviting them to conduct the release themselves! For our youngest intakes, rehabilitation is measured in months, with the longest rehabilitation being around 4 months.
In Sonoma County, squirrels spend their lives in the wild foraging for food. They have many amazing adaptations that help them evade predators, including using their tail as a parachute when jumping from tree to tree and double-jointed hind limbs for climbing. Western Grey Squirrels play a critical role in our local habitats by distributing nuts and seeds as they prepare for the cooler winter months. So much so, that our heritage oak trees depend on the squirrel’s dispersal and burial of acorns to grow new trees!
Can you tell the difference in the squirrel species photographed below?
Species from Left to Right: Eastern Fox Squirrel, California Ground Squirrel, Northern Flying Squirrel.
Support Your Local Wildlife!
Donate Today!
Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization that relies on donations from the public to rehabilitate the 1,000+ animals we receive each year. We do not receive any government funding. Our annual operating budget is $950,000, which means it costs almost $2,600 per day to keep our doors open.  Any donation helps!
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